When considering post-combat injuries in veterans, PTSD, missing limbs, and brain damage may come to mind. What many often don’t consider is hearing loss as a severe combat injury. These 5 facts about veterans and hearing loss may surprise you.
- The number one injury soldiers suffer from combat is loss of hearing. – Hearing loss is even more common than PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Severe hearing loss is commonly caused by bomb detonations and general military and combat noise. The deafening sounds of tank, plane, and ship engines contributes to temporary to permanent hearing loss and tinnitus, as do explosive devices and other loud weapons. Hearing loss is especially common among post 9/11 veterans. In fact, 414,000 post 9/11 soldiers have come home with some form of tinnitus or hearing loss.
- Soldiers are more likely to suffer hearing damage than civilians. – The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that soldiers are 30 percent more likely to lose their hearing than civilians. Even more concerning is that among those who served from September 2001 to March 2010, veterans were four times more like to suffer hearing loss than non veterans.
- Hearing loss may be more prevalent now than it was for soldiers in the past. – With the advent of improvised explosive devices and more powerful combat technology, more veterans are coming home with hearing loss than their predecessors. Field generators and powerful “bunker buster” bombs are extremely loud and dangerous to the ears. Even helicopters can cause loss of hearing.
- Many veterans suffering from hearing impairment don’t seek medical help right away. – According to experts, many soldiers with hearing loss or tinnitus choose to live with the problem, rather than getting help. Incredibly, the average time between someone noticing hearing damage and getting help for it is 7 years.
- Breakthroughs in neuroscience may help those who suffer severe tinnitus. – While there is no cure for tinnitus, some scientists believe there is a correlation between serotonin depletion (which can lead to depression, anxiety, and insomnia) and the severity of tinnitus. Fortunately, with the help of tinnitus therapies and antidepressants, some veterans have found relief from severe tinnitus.